Day 3 12/28
I’m sitting in my office at home, staring out the window at the clouds, and listening to the rain hit the corrugated tin on the roof above. It’s hard to think about our trip to Hawaii, but the Led Zeppelin in the background helps keep the fingers moving – so here goes.
Today was all about finding a good snorkeling spot. Our first stop was Black Sand Beach (at the bottom of the map below), just a little way north of us on the coast. The spot had a good reputation as a snorkeling spot. So, into the car we piled, snorkel gear, swimsuits, towels, in anticipation of clear water and wildlife.
However, the dream was not realized. Unfortunately, there was a swell out of the northwest that was making the conditions suitable for boogie boarding, but not snorkeling. We all got in the water, swam around awhile, and then exited the water. We decided it was time to consult an expert. There was a dive shop nearby called Snorkel Bob’s (Yeah, I got a T-shirt). They quickly pointed us to the Mauna Lani Beach at the top of the map.
Climbing back into the Silver Whale, we drove to the access parking lot, and started the walk to the beach. The lot was for the Kalahuipua’a Historical Park – Fishponds and Trail. The walk to the beach was across a lava field, and thru an area of ancient fishponds. For some reason, all of us were struck dumb, or the Hawaiian gods rendered our phone cameras useless. Either way, we have almost no pictures of this visit. The first picture (the nice one) is from their website). The other two are from us.
The snorkeling was from the beach on the upper left of the map. We followed the western edge of the bay around to the outside corner. The water was pretty clear and there was lots of wildlife to watch. It just kept getting better the father out we went.
A big plus, is that there are showers and bathrooms at the clubhouse there, and no one seemed to mind that we were using them. There was also a restaurant there that I think we could have eaten at. Altogether a Grade B+ location.
Post snorkel, we stopped at the local grocery store, purchased some homemade panini sandwiches and drinks, and drove back to the condo to eat lunch. After lunch, there was a long nap that consumed the rest of the afternoon. Because that night, we were supposed to board a boat at 7:30 pm to go swim with the manta rays.
For dinner, we decided to leave the neat and clean Disneylandish environment we had been in so far, and have dinner in Kona. Kona was great. I loved the waterfront, and the variety of stores, and the different people we met there. It was a little like going back to the real world for me, and matched my vision of what I thought Hawaii should look like.
We drove into town, negotiating the afternoon traffic, found a place to park the car, started walking on Ali’i’ Drive. The stores were touristy, a little gritty, and full of life. I loved it.
We chose to eat dinner at The Fish Hopper and were seated at a table close enough to the open front of the restaurant to see the bay outside and the people gathered across the street, one or two playing ukuleles. The room itself was decorated with Hawaiian themed art and assorted stuff. The service was nice and efficient, and the food came quickly. The food was what I expected for the type of place it was, and the drinks were great. They were also recognized for their award winning poke.
Meanwhile a storm front with some rain, wind, and scattered lightning had arrived off the coast.
After dinner, we ping-ponged our though the waterfront shopping district until it was time to head for our manta ray encounter. So, the manta rays eat plankton. People have discovered that they can attract the plankton to bright lights, and so some of the hotels shine lights into the water in order to lure the manta rays to the location. People then pay money to jump in the water with them. We were some of those people.
We were supposed to meet the boat at 7:30. We arrived and the wind was blowing steadily, the nearby flags were indicating that there was a decent wind blowing onshore from the storm. I walked away from the group and surreptitiously checked the marine forecast. The forecast wasn’t terrible but it indicated that we would encounter bouncy conditions offshore, and less than ideal snorkeling.
7:30 passed, no boat. 8:00 passed, no boat. Finally, sometime after 8:00 pm the boat with the trip that left earlier in the evening arrived back. The passengers looked like like wet puppies, and none of them were smiling as if they had just had an amazing time. I listened to the captain apologize to them for the conditions, “this just happens sometimes”.
I went back to the group and let them know the boat was back. A couple of minutes later, the captain, approached and told us that he was canceling our trip, and how we could get our money back.
I have spent a fair amount of time on the water. The conditions were not life threatening, but the trip would have been an ordeal. I was relieved, that he had decided to cancel, and I personally thanked the captain for his decision. I think the rest of our group were also happy to climb back into the Silver Whale, and head back to the condo.
That ends day three. Aloha.